Everyone knows that if you need braces, you go to an orthodontist. They will straighten your teeth and fix your bite, but they aren’t filling cavities or giving you fluoride treatments. Are they dentists? Are they doctors? Many people ask us questions about what we do, and about the benefits of seeing an orthodontist.
Yes, we are dentists! An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed a minimum of two years of specialized graduate training after dental school and general practice. For most orthodontists, this means a total of eleven years of study after high school.
Dentists are trained to identify problems related to the development and positions of the teeth and jaws, and play an intricate role in managing apatient’s entry into orthodontic treatment. During routine dental visits, they will evaluate your bite and determine the best time for you to see the orthodontist.
An orthodontist’s additional training involves much more than retainers, braces and wires. The study of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics (our full specialty name) centers around the understanding of the growth and development of the facial structures, and how these changes can be influenced to create a healthy bite and beautiful smile.
An orthodontist can prevent dental irregularities in children by conducting examinations before all of the permanent teeth come in. A child should ideally have his or her first visit with an orthodontist around the age of seven, especially when there is afamily history of crooked teeth or bite problems. The early intervention of an orthodontist takes advantage of the still- growing bones of the jaws and the pending development of the permanent teeth. Early intervention can also make any future orthodontic treatments more efficient and more effective.
Another key component of an orthodontist’s graduate study is the management of complex orthodontic and facial problems. This is where first having the training of being a dentist is crucial.
Adult patients often have a more detailed dental history, and require more interaction with the general dentist and other dental specialists. The orthodontist can not only oversee the orthodontic care of such patients, but can also orchestrate the timing and direction of a patient’s other dental needs.
The path to becoming an orthodontist is a long and difficult one, but our profession is very rewarding and we are happy to be to be able to share our knowledge and skills with our patients.